Tip o’ the Week #241 – Where did that email come from?

clip_image002Most people don’t really pay much attention to where emails originate from or how they got to be in your inbox. This is clearly exploited by scammers and spammers of all sorts, as many consumers will happily click on a link in a genuine- looking email and not think twice about the fact that it might not be all it seems.

Anti-spam technology has improved a lot in the last decade, so a lot of the obvious junk mail is filtered out before it arrives, or if it makes it as far as your mailbox, it’ll be dropped into your Junk Mail folder. But even though the crooks have gotten more sophisticated, sometimes fishy-looking email is still delivered, but clearly marked as probably not safe, as there are tell-tale signs of it not being genuine.

Here’s an example of a typical “phishing” email that’s trying to lure the recipient into clicking a link to a website they think is their bank, Ebay, PayPal etc. etc.

clip_image004In this case, the URL is shown at the bottom of the window by hovering over it (the mouse pointer doesn’t show up in the screen capture, but it was over the “Update” button). This doesn’t look like a genuine URL; ditto, anything that is displayed in the text as (for example) https://login.youraccount.com but when you hover, you’ll find it’s some other URL. Some scammers are increasingly using TinyURL, Bit.ly or other URL-shortening services to try to hide their obvious dodginess.

Many email programs (like the standard Windows 8 Mail client) try to hide complexity from end users, but if you hover over a link, it will show the URL in a pop-up.

There are other scenarios, though, where the sender isn’t purporting to be a large institution or other supposedly trustworthy source. Maybe you’re selling something and a potential buyer contacts you to offer a quick cash purchase, sometimes in tandem with an overly complicated arrangement of an agent coming to collect your goods, in exchange for some online means of payment. If your Spidey-sense doesn’t pick up a slightly iffy premise to these kinds of offers, then there might be other ways of tracking down the sender.

Every email comes with an “envelope” – it’s actually like a routing slip attached to the block of data that makes up the main body of the message, and every time a computer (like an internet mail server) handles the message, it adds some kind of marker on the routing slip. The most recent markers on the message “headers” are at the top, so to find out where it really came from, parse down and look for the earliest point in the header that shows where the message originated.

clip_image005To see the detail on a message, you’ll need to use a mail client such as Outlook or Windows Live Mail (if you’re using Outlook.com/Hotmail etc, or Gmail), and look at the properties of the message.

In Outlook, open the message in its own window, then go into File / Properties and you’ll see Internet Headers – if the message came from outside the company, this is the key to your sleuthing. Select all the text and  clip_image007right-click to copy it into the clipboard, and paste it into Notepad for easier viewing.

The header information might be incomprehensible (there are plenty of guides online that can help you make sense, if you’re all that interested), and in fact, much of the text could be faked – but it often gives some interesting breadcrumbs.

Above is the header of a message that’s a tad suspect – viewed in Windows Live Mail (open the message, look in File clip_image009/ Properties and look in the Details tab). Looking down the headers, we can see the message originally was sent to Yahoo, and it was handed over to the Yahoo mail service by the IP address listed: 

Received: from [] by web172005.mail.ir2.yahoo.com via HTTP; Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:19:54 BST

The sender, who’s offering to buy a car in this case, purports to be in Aberdeen. Now let’s just see where this address is by pasting the source IP address (41.220 etc) into the box on the top right of www.whatismyipaddress.com – or put the IP address into the URL, like here.

Doesn’t look a lot like Aberdeen, does it?

Tip o’ the Week #240 – Word Flow on Windows Phone 8.1

clip_image002Another week, another Windows Phone 8.1 (aka Nokia Lumia “Cyan”) tip.

Still no word from HTC about when 8.1 will roll out to 8X and 8S users, though there has been some news regarding the release of the already-in-testing “GDR 1” update for WP8.1, in relation to HTC handsets.

A developer/test build of the GDR 1 update is now available (if you have a kosher Windows Phone 8.1 phone and you install the Preview for Developers app, having first registered as a developer – just start a new project, sign in, accept the Ts&Cs and boom, you’re a developer – then you’ll get updated to the GDR1 build, which also means Cortana is available outside of the US).


Lumia 1020 owners are now getting WP8.1 in droves; UK toters of 920s are getting it via O2 and Vodafone, but sadly not yet on “Country Variant” or EE.

However you receive it, one of the smartest updates to Windows Phone 8.1 is surely a feature called Word Flow. It is an uncannily-accurate way of drawing a shape on the keyboard which covers (more or less) the letters you’d otherwise be typing by tapping – see here for a back-to-back comparison.

Using Word Flow is likely to be both more accurate but also quicker than hunt’n’peck typing – it’s even been put to use in setting a world record

There’s no need to switch anything on – if you have WP8.1, just start swiping whenever the keyboard appears. The software will automatically add a space to every word you keep, and if you want to add further punctuation then try:

  • capitalising the first letter of the next word you swipe, by first tapping the ? key
  • add a period to the end of the previous word, then a space, then capitalise the next word’s first letter, by quickly double-tapping the space bar
  • Adding commas/colons/etc by tapping the appropriate key (eg &123). NB: Word Flow doesn’t do anything on the numbers/symbols key page…

So, if you’ve got 8.1 already, now is the time to fully embrace Word Flow. Type no more.

Tip o’ the Week #239 – OneNote templates

clip_image002As we’ve covered on ToW before, OneNote is an application that attracts legions of fans like few other productivity apps. The average user probably snips and clips, pastes and types into their OneNote notebooks, but may not realise the depths of functionality only a menu or two away. Surface 3 users even experience magic.

One simple yet really powerful feature is the ability to have OneNote templates – either self-created or downloaded from elsewhere. It’s easy to assign a template to a specific notebook section, and set it so that every new page follows that template. Doing interviews? Qualifying sales leads? Researching cars to buy? Then this could be just the cut of your jib.

Creating a custom template for a section

Start by laying out how you want to capture information – once you have it to your liking, go to the INSERT menu in clip_image004OneNote and select the Page Templates option.

You’ll see a pane appear on the right-hand side of the main OneNote window – this lets you pick from a predefined list of templates or search from ones already published online.

clip_image006Frankly, most of the in-the-box templates looks nice, but they’re a bit rubbish, really. You’ll always have to customise a template to capture just what you want, and do you really need a fancy graphic on the background of every single page in your notebook? No.

Once you have your own less-groovy but more useful template sorted out, just click on the “Saveclip_image008 current page as template” link at the very bottom of the task pane, and it will prompt you for a name, and ask if you’d like to save it as the default for the section.

Once you’ve saved your fave template, then you’ll need to apply it section-by-clip_image010section to the bits of your notebook you want – by navigating to each section, then going into the Page Templates section as above, and using the Always use a specific template drop-down option at the bottom of the same pane.

Now, when you create a new page in said section, it’ll use your new template. The template is local to your own PC, so if you use OneNote on another machine it will still be applied to new pages, but you won’t be able to set it to be the default for new sections – unless you repeat the process above by creating a new page (using the old template) then save that as a template on your 2nd PC, and apply it to the new section.

There’s no way to retrospectively apply a template to existing pages, but there are some tools in the awesome OneTastic addin that might help to tidy up formatting in bulk.